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Thursday 25 August 2016

Commission to conduct an inquiry into the permanency amendments

The Commission will soon commence an inquiry into the permanency changes arising from the Children, Youth and Families Amendment (Permanent Care and Other Matters) Act 2014. The changes took effect in March 2016, and the inquiry will examine the evidence available after the first six months of their operation to consider whether the amendments are improving permanency for children and young people and whether they have lead to unintended consequences. This inquiry has been referred to the Commission by the Minister for Families and Children, the Hon Jenny Mikakos MP.

Permanency arrangements refer to an enduring care arrangement for a child that promotes the child's safety, development and sense of belonging. For most children this will be in the care of a parent, however for a small number of children a permanent or ongoing out-of-home care placement is required.

The changes to the Act arose from recommendations made by the Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children Inquiry 2012. It found the average time to achieve a permanent care order for children unable to return home was 5 years, and that this was too long and harmful to the children involved.

The inquiry will consider:

  • whether the amendments have had any direct impact on outcomes for vulnerable children and families
  • whether the permanency amendments are leading to timelier permanent outcomes,including family preservation and family reunification for vulnerable children and for children for whom it is unsafe to return to the care of a parent
  • whether the permanency amendments have strengthened cultural supports and planning for Aboriginal children in out of home care
  • what impact, if any, have the permanency amendments had on child protection and other services
  • whether there have been any unintended consequences directly attributable to the permanency amendments
    barriers that prevent permanent care orders being made.

The inquiry will be informed by evidence and data and involve a number of components, allowing for stakeholder participation.

This inquiry will be guided by the best interests principles in section 10 of the Children,Youth and Families Act 2005, the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The inquiry will commence on 1 September 2016 and be finalised in March 2017. Submissions will be sought in the near future.

We are excited about leading this important piece of work.

Liana Buchanan - Principal Commissioner
Andrew Jackomos - Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People